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MomSpace: Great Expectations and the Unexpected

By Andrea Moreau

Expectations can be powerful. In anticipating an experience, we envision something happening a certain way. What happens, then, when reality doesn’t match the expectations? Here’s a story about some recent expectations, and the amazing things I learned through the unexpected.

In July, my first children’s book was published. Since then, I’ve been invited to schools across Mississippi to read my book and speak about reading and writing. Of course, I was giddy with excitement, thrilled to do so, and had great expectations about this opportunity. Allow me to share some experiences I did not expect.

I was invited to read at the Pass Christian Library to toddlers and Pre-K students, but didn’t realize how much I’d learn about what the children’s librarian, Melanie Walrod, was doing at her library. One program is the SIT, STAY, READ! Program, sponsored by the Visiting Pet Parents-Pet Therapy Group. Volunteers and their four-legged friends visit with children at the library and children read to the dogs! Kids gain confidence in reading and communication by sharing stories with these gentle pet heroes. It was delightfully unexpected!

When I visited four schools in two days in Newton, Mississippi, I was unexpectedly invited to stay at the most beautiful, whimsical, colorful little house named the Bottletree Bungalow, owned by retired former educators, Andy and Dottie Armstrong. I learned how this lovely couple acquired, renovated, and restored their historic home, the Bungalow, and several other properties. I learned about the history of Newton. Dottie, who teaches art, oozes creativity and it permeates everything she touches. Her paintings, mosaics, decor, and unique and quirky creativity touched and inspired me.

I read my book recently to adult student teachers in the College of Education at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. There, I got to speak about writing and teaching. I have always been curious about teaching at a university, and for one day, unexpectedly, I did.

I saw cotton fields for the first time ever. I was unexpectedly overwhelmed by the beauty of the snowy white fields and the thousands of fluffy clumps of cotton gently blowing beneath a perfectly clear blue sky. Humbly, I thought about how I take for granted all the cotton items I use daily. Reverently, I thought of the picturesque fields as a setting for some of the most torrential times in our history.

I was unexpectedly instructed by a school librarian in Cleveland, Mississippi that I “must” go visit the Grammy Museum. There, I learned why Mississippi is so important to music.

I got to travel some of the most beautiful back roads of Mississippi, and see some extraordinary landscapes and hillscapes.

I got to visit “off the beaten path” restaurants and coffee shops, where I found the best of Mississippi southern hospitality along with some killer eats.

I had to slow down to wait for a lone horse (in no particular hurry) to cross a road.

Of all these unexpected experiences, the best was when I got to meet the real rock stars and quiet heroes of our state, the school librarians and teachers. I saw so many teachers demonstrating true love for their jobs and their students. I got to hug some of the sweetest children — from the poorest communities in our state — who asked some of the most intelligent and thoughtful questions.

Since writing the book, I have imagined and expected taking it “on tour.” I had no idea, though, just how much I would learn through the journey. I couldn’t have dreamed of how moved, inspired, and humbled I would be. I never could have expected to make so many new friends, or see so many special things.

I learned that my expectations were actually quite simple. My reality far exceeded them in the best possible ways.

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